Biden Keep Your Promise!

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Keep Your Promises! Join us for a day of action on October 24

Biden Keep Your Promise!

Next month we are linking up with the Last Prisoner Project and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) to conduct a series of actions aimed at pressuring President Biden to release the nation’s federal cannabis prisoners. We are seeking cannabis activists who are ready, willing, and able to escalate pressure on the president until all our cannabis prisoners are home.

The demand is simple: “Follow through on your campaign promise to release all cannabis prisoners or we will remind the nation of your creation of the problem through disrupting politics as usual across the country.”

Unless President Biden takes action next month, we plan to engage in non-violent civil disobedience in multiple waves on Monday, October 24 outside the White House and the Democratic Party National Headquarters. We hope you will join us! 

For more information check out the SSDP’s “Keep Your Promise” webpage.  For more information on the nuts and bolts of clemency work please visit the Last Prisoner Projects “Time to heal” page and join their letter writing campaign.

DESCHEDULE CANNABIS NOW

Sign up to testify for the November 19 DC Council hearing!

Sign up to testify on by November 17!

The DC Council is holding a special hearing on Friday, November 19 for the public to provide comment on their comprehensive cannabis tax & regulate legislation. You are invited to testify on Zoom about what you like, don’t like, and want changed in the proposed law.

The last time the DC Council had a hearing on comprehensive tax & regulate cannabis legislation was October 30 2014, before Initiative 71 was voted on and before the Harris Rider was added to the federal budget for the District of Columbia.

We have patiently waited for this incredibly important hearing and now is the time to unleash the creativity of the DC cannabis community!  We need to highlight what we, as cannabis consumers, growers, and small business owners, really want and you are invited to join us.

We have linked up with the DC Cannabis Business Association to transform next week’s Zoom Sesh to a full reading of the 74 page legislation. 

Together we will read over the proposed legislation line by line and make collective notes on a shared Google Doc about what we what like, don’t like, and what we want changed.

Often people in the cannabis community don’t feel empowered to read the laws or participate this in this important process because they are not lawyers. The truth is that you don’t need to be a lawyer to read, comment, or testify on proposed legislation!  More importantly, we will have at least one lawyer on hand during our reading next week to help everyone interpret the legislation.

First and foremost, click here to register to testify on November 19.  The sooner you testify, the earlier you will testify on Zoom on November 19. The DC Council usually makes the witness list (the people who signed up to testify) in order of their registration.  We expect a lot of people to sign up, so please fill out the google form now.  You *do not* need to be a DC resident to testify! This means anyone in the world with an Internet connection and Zoom can testify. 

Secondly, register for next week’s Zoom Sesh (see below). If you have already registered for a previous DCMJ Zoom Sesh, you do not need to register again because we’ve added you to a special RSVP email list. However, it’s always good to know how many people are attending. This month’s Special Sesh will commence at 7:10pm, Wednesday, October 13 and might go late in order for us to make it through the entire piece of legislation.

Third, if you want some good old fashioned homework, read over the 74 page legislation now. By reading B24-0118, “Comprehensive Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Act of 2021,” in advance you will be able to provide your important feedback more quickly. We recommend opening up a spreadsheet and writing the line number (left side of the page) of the sections that interests you in one column and writing the what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want changed in the next column.  When we get to your sections, you will be ready to provide your feedback.

Together we are going to craft the forward-thinking, just, and comprehensive cannabis law in the United States. Over the years, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work in other states and now is the time for us to use our collective wisdom to make DC’s tax & regulate law the one we want!

INVITE: September Zoom Sesh (9/8/21)

See you at the September Zoom Sesh!

Throughout 2021 DCMJ is hosting monthly online gatherings. Our next Zoom Sesh is scheduled to commence at 7:10pm on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. We’d love for you to join us!

To join the September Zoom Sesh, please click here to register (required!). You can help spread the word by RSVPing on Facebook and inviting some of your friends. We will send out a reminder email with the Zoom link and passcode to everyone who registers about one hour before the 420 Zoom Sesh begins. Questions or suggested Agenda items? Please email 420ZoomSesh@DCMJ.org

INVITE: August 420 Zoom Sesh (8/11/2021)

See you at the August 420 Zoom Sesh!

Throughout 2021 DCMJ is hosting monthly online gatherings called the “420 Zoom Sesh.” Our next 420 Zoom Sesh is scheduled to commence at 4:19pm on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. We’d love for you to join us!

To join the August 420 Zoom Sesh, please click here to register (required!). You can help spread the word by RSVPing on Facebook and inviting some of your friends. We will send out a reminder email with the Zoom link and passcode to everyone who registers about one hour before the 420 Zoom Sesh begins. Questions or suggested Agenda items? Please email 420ZoomSesh@DCMJ.org

INVITE: June 420 Zoom Sesh (6/9/2021)

See you at the June 420 Zoom Sesh!

Throughout 2021 DCMJ is hosting monthly online gatherings called the “420 Zoom Sesh.” Our next 420 Zoom Sesh is scheduled to commence at 4:19pm on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. We’d love for you to join us!

To join the June 420 Zoom Sesh, please click here to register (required!). You can help spread the word by RSVPing on Facebook and inviting some of your friends. We will send out a reminder email with the Zoom link and passcode to everyone who registers about one hour before the 420 Zoom Sesh begins. Questions or suggested Agenda items? Please email 420ZoomSesh@DCMJ.org

Legislative Memo Concerning DC’s Proposed Tax & Regulate Legislation

Dear Councilmembers,

Thank you for agreeing to have your staff meet with us concerning the “Comprehensive Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Act of 2021.” We have waited for 6 years to address many of the important issues contained in this legislation and during that time we’ve had the opportunity to solicit feedback from DC’s cannabis users, growers, and their families. While we are generally supportive of this important piece of legislation, we do have some concerns that we will be sharing with your staff. Overall, we do not want any of the freedoms enshrined in Initiative 71 to be reduced or altered in significant or possibly detrimental ways, and more importantly, we urge the DC Council to support the existing cottage industry in the District of Columbia before allowing multi-state operators, with billions of capital, to make further inroads.

1. While not contained in this legislation, the Mayor’s “Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2021” contains a provision we find reprehensible. We feel it is important to start with this problematic component of the Mayor’s legislation before addressing the Council’s legislation in order for it not to be added at a later date. Namely, the provision that allows adults to possess no more than 10 ounces of cannabis at home. This provision is not acceptable and we are thankful that the Council’s legislation does not contain this onerous section. An adult who grows cannabis at home could violate this provision with one plant and we fear that its potential inclusion would result in more home raids and arrests. It shows that the Mayor’s legislation was written without serious consultation with any member of DC’s cannabis community because if only one DC resident homegrower had been given a chance to comment they would have said “This is not workable,” and we believe it is in the best interest to make this legislation work for everyone.

Initiative 71 permits adults to keep all of the cannabis they have grown at home and we are not aware of any safety issues that have arisen from this home cultivation provision, but we do believe a lack of access to the marketplace is a problem. A better gauge is to compare the limits adults currently have when it comes to the possession of beer, wine, and liquor at home. Currently we are not aware of limits that DC-based home brewers might have with respect to the amount beer they can produce for personal consumption without fear of their home being raided. Why should cannabis growers be any different?

2. We are suggesting that the Council legalize “casual sales.” If a DC resident was to end up with more cannabis than they need for personal use, we need to offer them a legal outlet to sell their extra home grown cannabis to other adults as this is a direct way to provide equity for the cannabis community that has been historically oppressed. A DC resident homegrower will pay for electricity, water, soil, rent, and nutrients to grow a plant and under Initiative 71 they can give that cannabis away without remuneration (payment for goods or services). But why should we criminalize a home grower selling some of their extra cannabis to their neighbor? We don’t care if a neighbor sells their extra tomatoes to a neighbor, or extra bottles of home made wine so why not cannabis? We don’t care if a home brewer sells their neighbor a 6-pack of their beer either. These types of casual sales are of no concern to police, so why should they be a concern when it comes to small amounts of cannabis?

We are aware that some growers are selling their extra cannabis for supplemental income. With only 12 plants, a home grower cannot make this into a fully sustaining business. But some do sell their extra cannabis to pay for rent, electricity, water, soil, and nutrients that went into the production of the cannabis. We feel casual sales should not remain criminalized as there is no compelling public interest to do so if a ultra-micro license is created. How much casual sales one can make before they need to collect sales tax and require a license?

We suggest $599 in “casual sales” to be the threshold for sales tax. At $600 the grower is really an independent contractor in the cottage industry, so like a normal small business they are still required to report income and pay taxes on perhaps up to $30,000 in sales or perhaps even more. We feel this is a relatively small amount of “casual sales” that would allow the home grower to recoup their expenses and generate supplemental income that could make the difference for someone living in poverty or not, or being able to make ever higher property tax payments on a family home in a gentrifying area.

3. We believe there needs to be more licenses offered and they have a lower price tag. The barrier to entry for many adults will be the cost to obtain the license. The microbusiness license permits a grower to utilize 1,500 square feet of space. We feel this “micro” license should be considered “small” and what we consider an “ultra-micro” should be added in its place as the “microbusiness” license. Thus there would be a “small business” license and a “microbusiness” license be offered. The revised “microbusiness” license should be for home growers to be able to sell more than $600 of cannabis and grow more plants at home. The proposed “microbusiness” license requires the licensee to rent a properly zoned space for the cultivation of cannabis to comply with the licensee requirements. We anticipate this type of zoned space to become more expensive as more licenses become available. This will cause the overhead cost to produce the cannabis to increase and lower and possibly eliminate the profit margins of these “micro” businesses. Thus it’s important that the existing cottage industry remains within the homes of DC growers. The only difference between the current system of home cultivation and a true “microbusiness” licensee is the allowance to grow more plants and sell small amounts directly to consumers through casual sales. We believe the new “microbusiness” license should be $100 and allow growers to grow 30 plants, which is a little more than two times the number of plants that are permitted under Initiative 71. While the “small business” license should be $500 and allow growers to utilize up to 1,500 square feet of space and grow an unlimited amount of cannabis and pay taxes on everything above $600 in sales. The new “microbusiness” licensees would not be required to sell their small amounts of cannabis to distributors, but the “small business” licensees would be required to do so. Both the “micro” and “small” business licensees should have access to the farmers markets.

4. The expansion of licenses should mirror those which are offered for businesses who sell alcohol. For example, there are licenses to allow bed & breakfasts to serve alcohol to their guests, so why not a similar $650 license for cannabis establishments? If alcohol can be sold at farmers markets, then why not allow “small business” or “microbusiness” licensees to sell their cannabis at farmers markets as well? There are so many examples of licenses for alcohol that are currently available, it doesn’t make sense to limit the number of licenses available for cannabis businesses to so few in number and type. Nearly all the existing alcohol licenses address what this legislation fails to address: the need for on-site consumption licenses.

There are thousands of adults who are prohibited from consuming cannabis in their homes and this legislation does not address this important need. DCMJ worked with Congresswoman Norton in 2018 to help introduce the “Sondra Battle Cannabis Fair Use Act,” which would permit adults to consume cannabis in public housing in states where medical and adult-use cannabis has been legalized. While this legislation has been incorporated into the MORE Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives last December, it shows the need for adults to have a safe place to consume cannabis outside of their homes. We believe there needs to be no less than 5 of these licenses per ward. An adult should not be required to travel across town to be able to legally consume their cannabis outside their home.

Unless the Council of District of Columbia amends the decriminalization of cannabis statute, which prohibits the use of cannabis in public spaces, this legislation is incomplete. Like cannabis, tobacco requires adults to be 21 years of age to purchase or consume. Tobacco is not allowed to be smoked in public housing either, but there is space afforded to smokers at public housing. We believe that adults should be able to consume cannabis at any place an adult can consume tobacco. This parity will make it easier to enforce the law. Right now there are places in DC where tobacco can be consumed indoors and we believe there should be a license available for cannabis as well. New York’s recent cannabis reform legislation permits cannabis to be consumed at any place tobacco is permitted, including sidewalks, but not in public parks.

5. With a large segment of the population unable to legally grow cannabis at home, there needs to be a license for cooperative growing sites. We believe this would be a great use of the “small business” or “microbusiness” license. For example, if 10 adults pooled their resources they could rent a space where they could each have 150 square feet grow their own cannabis for non-commercial use. There is an intrinsic difference between these cooperative growing licenses that are non-commercial and those that are commercial and this legislation needs to make a distinction between the two. For example, if a friend who lives alone has an extra room at their house, I could grow my 6 plants there alongside their 6 plants under a cooperative grow license. Under Initiative 71, the person who lives alone and is growing these 12 plants would be breaking the law, but if there was a means for them to obtain a cooperative grow license they would be within the scope of the law. This license would allow the homeowner of the cooperative to charge a small fee for electricity and help them supplement their income by providing a small space in their homes. There are already growers in DC who do this in violation of the law and it shows the need for another type of license “microbusiness” license.

6. Finally, both this legislation and Mayor’s proposed legislation contain a prohibition on giving away cannabis to those engaged in advocacy. This prohibition is included in a section that addresses some of the existing ways people currently sell cannabis. Namely, buy this thing and get this cannabis for free or join this group and get cannabis for free. But come to this demonstration and get cannabis for free is entirely different. DCMJ has lead numerous advocacy-related demonstrations where cannabis was used as means to further the goals of reforming cannabis laws. For example, next month we plan on giving away joints outside of vaccination centers. Dubbed “Joints For Jabs,” this form of advocacy encourages adults to get vaccinated and to voluntarily call their elected officials to pass this law. At no point is there any money being requested in order to receive the cannabis. Since this form of advocacy carries no inherent value other than promoting reform, the portion dealing with advocacy must be removed. There is no sales component with respect to free speech activities and we question the constitutionality of this prohibition. If there is any money exchanged in relation to the advocacy, then we agree that this section would constitute an illegal sale, but there needs to be better clarity. If this section is strictly about the exchange of money for anything, including advocacy, for cannabis, then its an illegal sale. But if we are to permit casual sales, then there needs to be a limit on what constitutes an illegal sale. In 2017, we gave away over 10,000 joints at Donald Trump’s inauguration in order to advocate that cannabis reform is a non-partisan issue. There was no money that exchanged hands, just free joints containing cannabis grown at home by DC residents given to adults for advocating for the change of unjust laws. This type of advocacy is not a backdoor to allowing illicit cannabis sales and must be removed to protect free speech rights.
We look forward to working with you on this important legislation. We understand the Harris Rider remains in effect and this legislation will not receive a final vote until later this year. Therefore, we believe there is ample time to expand this legislation and make into something that reflects the values and needs of the cannabis community in the District of Columbia.

Sincerely,
Adam Eidinger, Proposer of Initiative 71, Co-Founder of DC Marijuana Justice
Nikolas Schiller, Co-Founder of DC Marijuana Justice

INVITE: February 420 Zoom Sesh (2/10/2021)

Throughout 2021 DCMJ is hosting monthly online gatherings called the “420 Zoom Sesh.” Our next 420 Zoom Sesh is scheduled to commence at 4:19pm on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. We’d love for you to join us!

To join the February 420 Zoom Sesh, please click here to register. You can help spread the word by RSVPing on Facebook and inviting some of your friends. We will send out a reminder email with the Zoom link and passcode to everyone who registers about one hour before the 420 Zoom Sesh begins. Questions or suggested Agenda items? Please email 420ZoomSesh@DCMJ.org

PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE – Prohibition of Marijuana Testing Act of 2019 + Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Amendment Act of 2019

Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, announces a public hearing on B23-0266, the “Prohibition of Marijuana Testing Act of 2019,” which seeks to prohibit marijuana testing as a condition of employment unless required by law, and on B23-0309, the “Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Amendment Act of 2019,” which seeks to prohibit the District of Columbia government from discriminating, in employment, against individuals participating in the medical marijuana program.

The hearing will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 25, 2019, in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building.

Those who wish to testify before the Committee are asked to contact Ms. Charnisa Royster at labor@dccouncil.us or (202) 724-7772 by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 23, 2019, to provide their name, address, telephone number, organizational affiliation and title (if any), as well as the language of interpretation, if any, they require. Witnesses who anticipate needing language interpretation, including American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, are requested to inform this office of the need as soon as possible but no later than Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Those wishing to testify are encouraged, but not required, to submit 15 copies of written testimony. Witnesses representing organizations will have five minutes to present testimony, and individuals will have three minutes to present testimony; less time may be allotted if a large number of witnesses attends.

If you are unable to testify at the hearing, written statements will be made a part of the official record. Written statements should be submitted by email to Ms. Royster at labor@dccouncil.us or mailed to the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, Council of the District of Columbia, Suite 115 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004. The record will close at 5:00 p.m. on October 9, 2019.

FEEDBACK REQUESTED! DCMJ’s Suggestions for Cannabis Reform Legislation

DCMJ will soon be meeting with members of the DC government to discuss the proposed changes to DC’s cannabis legislation. Below are some of our suggestions and we’d love to hear from you as to what we should add or change. Please read the suggestions below and fill out the Google Form to provide us with needed feedback!


VERSION 2.0 IS BELOW! THANK YOU FOR THE FEEDBACK! We have updated the document:


Current and former cannabis users and growers in the DC have asked us to share some suggestions for model legislation that should be included in future cannabis reform legislation.

MICRO SALES OF HOMEGROW PERMITTED
Expert home growers in the District of Columbia may have yields higher than they need for personal use, while some horticulturalists often grow cannabis they will never consume. DCMJ wants expert growers to be able to sell their excess cannabis at farmer’s markets in the District of Columbia. By providing an outlet for locally grown cannabis, the DC government can ensure more dollars are circulated locally and collect sales tax.Moreover, many growers do not have the capital to invest in a large-scale growing facility, but can provide the marketplace with unique varieties of cannabis. Some strains of cannabis are not profitable for large-scale cultivation, but small home growers can fill the niche if they are given the opportunity to sell their extra cannabis. There is a fine line between legal sales and illegal sales and we believe it primarily involves volume of sales. No one cares if a gardener in DC sells their extra tomatoes to their next-door neighbor, and we believe the same case should be made for cannabis. However, if an adult wants to sell in an established marketplace, we believe they should obtain a “micro-cultivators license” to ensure they follow the rules. With this license, the grower would be permitted to transport more cannabis than regular citizens would be permitted to possess outside of their homes.

AUTOMATIC EXPUNGEMENT OF MARIJUANA RECORDS
There are many marijuana arrest & conviction records still on the books. These need to be deleted. Citizens should not be required to initiate the expungement, rather we are asking for legislation that compels the Attorney General’s office to begin the process of deleting all records related to marijuana arrests and convictions. This is being done in jurisdictions around the country and the District of Columbia should follow suit. Often people were arrested for other items, but cannabis was used as the pretext for the arrest. We believe these records should be expunged as well, with the exception of the possession of weapons or in the case of violent crime. More importantly, we believe the expungement should not have a time limit on how far back the arrest and/or conviction happened.

NO CAP ON LICENSES
The creation of government cartels, where only a few licenses are given out, only hurts the consumer. In every jurisdiction were licenses are scarce, prices for cannabis are dictated by the licensee, not the market and consumers end up paying more than they should. With thousands of alcohol licenses in DC, we’ve seen that the open market does a better job in ensure proper compliance and competition. We believe the same should happen within the District’s cannabis marketplace. The best way to ensure fair prices, quality product, proper taxation & regulation is to not place an arbitrary limit on the number of licenses at the beginning of the process, rather if the licensing becomes a burden on the government, then a cap should be temporarily placed on new licenses. By limiting the number of licenses from the start, we believe the DC government will be doing a disservice to entrepreneurs and consumers.

INCREASE PLANT COUNT THROUGH SQUARE FOOTAGE ALLOWANCE
Ballot Initiative 71 allows adults to grow 6 plants if they live alone and up to 12 plants if they live with another adult. One unique aspect of this law is that it doesn’t require the plants to be grown together, placed in a locked room, or other supposed safeguards other jurisdictions have arbitrarily placed on growing cannabis at home. We are not aware of any instances where cannabis plants have been stolen due to a lack of supposed safeguards. However, we have heard many requests from growers would that like to be able to use more space at their homes to grow more cannabis, but the current plant count limitation prevents this. In some jurisdictions the plant count is superceded by the amount of space a grower can legally use. For example, home growers with an extra bedroom could grow more than 12 plants in a 15’x15’ space but under the current law, they are capped at a maximum of 12 plants. We believe a home grower could register their grow space with DCRA, pay a “home grow license” fee, and be able to increase their plant count as long as the plants remain within the licenses space in their home. Akin to a home office, there is a license process that could be replicated to allow for home growers to increase their plant count without too much effort or strain on District government resources. With that said, DCMJ is against any changes to the rights created by voter-approved ballot initiativ. Meaning, if someone wants to grow 6 plants at home and not register with DCRA, they should be allowed to grow privately at home, but if they want to grow more than what Ballot Initiative 71 permits, they should register with DCRA.

EDIBLES & CONCENTRATES
Ballot Initiative 71 does not address cannabis-infused food items nor cannabis concentrates. Currently these are treated as “hash” under the District’s definition of cannabis. We believe the definition should be amended to be more comprehensive and include dry flower, edibles, concentrates, plants, and cuttings. We do not believe there should be any type of increase penalties for cannabis related offenses. Rather, we believe civil fines & community service are a better deterrent than jail time. With that said, many adults do not want to consume cannabis flower by the inhalation of smoke or vapor and would prefer to consume it through foods or drinks. While others prefer to consume cannabis in concentrated forms known as “wax” or “shatter” or “hash.” We believe that adults should be able to consume cannabis whichever way they prefer and there shouldn’t be arbitrary restrictions on the methods of consumption.

RE-DEFINE PLANT COUNT
The branches on a large female cannabis plant can be trimmed to create cuttings (otherwise known as “clones”). These cuttings can be placed in a glass of water and will eventually develop roots under proper lighting, whereupon the cutting can then be transferred to a growing medium, like soil, to grow into a full-sized plant. This is a popular way for growers to share their genetics with other growers. Ballot Initiative 71 does not adequately differentiate between a plant and a cutting. We believe home growers would benefit by a better definition of a plant being at least 12 inches in size. As in only cuttings that are 1 foot or taller would be considered a plant and anything below that size would be considered a cutting and not included in the total plant count. Moreover, a under Ballot Initiative 71 an adult can give up to an ounce of cannabis to another adult and the current interpretation of the law by many growers is that a cutting that weighs less than 1 ounce can be given to another adult in compliance with the law. If the definition of the plant is revised, we believe that adults should be able to give another adult at least 12 cuttings at a time. Since Ballot Initiative 71 does not differentiate between dry cannabis (flower aka “bud”) from non-smokable cannabis (a cutting), it would be in the best interest of growers to modify the law to clarify the gift of up to one ounce of cannabis to another adult concerns only dry cannabis and add that the another adult can give up 12 cuttings at a time.

RE-DEFINE WEIGHT COUNT TO INCLUDE EQUVALENTS
In 2016 the state of Colorado changed how possession limits of cannabis and cannabis equivalents are defined. Since Ballot Initiative 71 did not address the possession of edibles or concentrates, we believe the District of Columbia should follow Colorado’s lead in re-define weights and equivalents. Currently in Colorado, one ounce of cannabis flower is equivalent to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate and 800 milligrams of edibles.

SALE OF LIVE PLANTS
We believe that cannabis consumers would benefit from the ability to purchase live plants at any location dry cannabis is currently sold, including farmer’s markets. Transportation of a live plant would be exempted from the official weight count and the receipt the purchasers has in their possession after making the purchase would provide the adult a limited time to transport the live plant from the site of purchase to their home. We believe a 24 hour window is adequate for an adult to take the newly purchased plant home.

OUTDOOR CULTIVATION
As more adults grow cannabis at their homes, a strain is placed on the District’s electrical grid. One of the easiest ways a grower can save money while helping the environment is to grow their cannabis using natural sunlight. We believe that the cannabis plant belongs outdoors and the more regulations and restrictions that are placed on the plant, the more people believe that the plant should be coveted. No one cares about tobacco or hops plants people grow outdoors in DC, and the same should be said for the cannabis plant. If someone wants to grow their plants in the back yard, so be it, but the current law forbids this. We request that minor changes are made to the law so that it’s silent on whether the plant can be grown indoors or outdoors.

TAXES
It has been shown in other jurisdictions that when the government places high taxes on cannabis, the cannabis is diverted to the illicit market. The best way to ensure this does not happen in the District of Columbia is to keep the taxes low throughout the entire supply chain. We believe that a 10% sales tax for consumers should be maintained because it falls in line with the current sales tax for alcohol. However, sales tax collected between the grower, processor, and seller should be minimal because this is where the cannabis is most likely to be diverted. A minimal 1% sales tax on bulk sales to processors and dispensaries would ensure cannabis makes its way to the consumer without the cannabis becoming too expensive. By collecting license fees from the cultivators, processors, and dispensaries plus a small tax on transactions prior to the consumer’s final purchase, the DC government will ensure more cannabis is sold within licensed businesses. Moreover, we believe the tax on medical cannabis should be eliminated entirely. There is no other medicine in the District of Columbia that the government taxes. The $100 patient registration fee is direct tax on medical cannabis patients. They should not be forced to pay more for their medicine than other adults. In order to implement this, a dispensary would simply have to enter the patient’s ID number at the point of sale.

BANKING
With cannabis still a Schedule I substance in the eyes of the federal government, there is a reluctance for commercial banks to develop relationships with cannabis businesses. In order to provide financial safety and security to the District’s licensed cannabis businesses, we believe there should be a public banking option available. Businesses that deal only in cash are a bigger target for nefarious elements of our society and by providing a public banking option, the District government can ensure the timely collection of taxes.

FINES & COMMUNITY SERVICE – NOT JAIL TIME
We do not believe there should be there should be any jail time related to infractions concerning cannabis. The District of Columbia used to arrest nearly 1% of the population each year for cannabis and the net result was many destroyed lives. Jail time is not the best way to address infractions to cannabis laws, rather we believe fines and community service are a better deterrent than jail time. Jail time costs society and the District government more in resources than fines and community service.

COMMUNITY INPUT
As old laws change, the non-cannabis consuming or growing community is not always kept abreast of the changes. DCMJ would like to assist in having town hall meetings in all 8 Wards of the District of Columbia so that citizens throughout Washington will be able to contribute their input to the legislation.


DCMJ 2018 Voter Guide

ATTENTION DC VOTERS:
Near the end of last week’s DCMJ Planning Meeting #14, it was suggested that since we aren’t meeting until the day after the November 6 midterm election, DCMJ community should put forward local candidate recommendations for DC voters.

For each of the offices that DC voters will choosing to elect either the incumbent or a challenger, we asked everyone at the meeting to put their thumbs up (endorse – vote for them!), thumbs sideways (neutral), or thumbs down (don’t vote for them). For some candidates there was no consensus, while other candidates DCMJ members were unanimous.

Below are the results:

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton – THUMBS UP

With her leadership on cannabis reform in Congress, specifically her introduction of H.R. 6152, the “Sondra Battle Cannabis Fair Use Act” last summer, there was consensus that DC voters should re-elect Congresswoman Norton.


Mayor Bowser – THUMBS SIDEWAYS

While many in the room support her recent effort to stop police from arresting people for public consumption of cannabis, they were unhappy that she has allowed Police Chief Newsham to continue to go after popups. There was no consensus to give her thumbs up or thumbs down, so she received a thumbs sideways.


Chairman Phil Mendelson – THUMBS DOWN

Everyone in the room gave DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson a thumbs down due to his past decisions on making public consumption of cannabis a crime instead of a civil penalty and for supporting the ban on social clubs. On the ballot, voters can choose the Libertarian Party’s Ethan Bishop-Henchman instead of Mendelson. Everyone at the DCMJ meeting was aware that he’ll likely be re-elected. That doesn’t mean cannabis activists should not stopping pressuring the Chairman to listen to cannabis users when setting public policy. There will likely be more cannabis reform legislation before the DC Council in the next two years, and the DCMJ community will need to continue to be open to working with the powerful Chairman to ensure we get the fair laws.


At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman – THUMBS UP

DC voters have the opportunity to vote for TWO At-Large Councilmembers, not just one. While there are 6 different candidates running for the At-Large Councilmember positions, there was only consensus around incumbent Elissa Silverman. It was felt that she was a consistent independent voice on the DC Council and continues to support cannabis reform. If you vote just for her, your vote will be weighted more heavily than if you vote for her and another candidate. There was a lot of discussion about endorsing incumbent Anita Bonds but her flip-flop on the social club vote, showed us that she is indifferent to cannabis reform and not worthy of DCMJ member’s endorsement.


Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau – THUMBS UP

If you live in Ward 1, you will be able to vote for Councilmember Nadeau. She has been a long-time advocate for cannabis reform (even attending one of the DC Cannabis Campaign’s first fundraisers!) and her past votes showed us that she will continue to support cannabis reform.


Ward 3 Councilmember Cheh – THUMBS SIDEWAYS

If you live in Ward 3, you will be able to vote for either Councilmember Mary Cheh or independent candidate Petar Dimchev. Based on the Ward 3 voters at the meeting, we could not come to a consensus on supporting Mary Cheh, so she has received a Thumbs Sideways.


Ward 5 Councilmember McDuffie – THUMBS DOWN

If you live in Ward 5, you will have the option of choosing 1 of 4 candidates. Based on the Ward 5 voters at the meeting, they were unanimous in their position that voters should NOT vote for incumbent Councilmember McDuffie. Moreover, DCMJ members also suggested that Ward 5 voters should also NOT vote for Kathy Henderson. McDuffie and Henderson have long records of being against common sense cannabis reform, so voters should consider voting for either Joyce Robinson Paul or Amone Banks.


Ward 6 Councilmember Allen – THUMBS UP

If you live in Ward 6, you have the option voting for Republican Michael Bekeska or incumbent Democrat Charles Allen. The consensus of the DCMJ members at last week’s meeting was to support incumbent Charles Allen.


Attorney General Karl Racine – THUMBS UP

Based on his support for Initiative #71 and his continued support for cannabis reform, DCMJ members were in consensus for keeping AG Racine in office.


Shadow Senator Michael Brown – THUMBS UP

Based on his support for Initiative #7q and his continued support for cannabis reform, DCMJ members were in consensus for keeping Shadow Rep. Brown in office in order to continue to lobby for DC Statehood.


Shadow Representative Franklin Garcia – THUMBS UP

Based on his support for Initiative #71 and his continued support for cannabis reform, DCMJ members were in consensus for keeping Shadow Rep. Garcia in office in order to continue to lobby for DC Statehood.


IF’s…

If you are not registered to vote, DC has same day voter registration, so you’ll be able to vote on election day. Click here to find your polling place. You should have received the DC  voter guide in the mail, but we hope the guide above is helpful in choosing the candidates who support cannabis reform.

If you want to get involved in any local campaigns, click here to download the DCBOE candidate list, which has the contact information for all the campaigns.


If want to help get Rep. Andy Harris out of office in the 1st District of Maryland, there will be a caravan leaving DC on Monday, November 5 to ensure DCMJ members are able to work the polls on the Eastern Shore of Maryland bright & early on election day. Please email Kris@MDMJ.org to get involved!